I very much enjoyed meeting Sandy Braddick at the Great Writers Inspire event. She is an inspirational teacher of the first class. Yeovil students are very lucky indeed.
Yesterday I visited Pendeford High School in Wolverhampton to deliver a presentation to the lovely AS students. This was partly inspired by the ever-cheerful and proactive Nicky Ball at Screen Yorkshire who gave her time so generously when she described how she made students aware of what it’s really like working in the media.
She set me off thinking what I would describe as essential skills and I surprised myself when I realised how low down the list skills and knowledge were. The vital skills on my list were all personal, social and transferable skills.
It’s possible I just take knowledge and technical skills for granted as everyone I’ve ever worked with has them in spades. But what differentiates the ones I want to work with and the ones I consider great, from the ones I don’t, is the following:
Work well in a team of strangers
Be open to new experiences
Be a radiator not a drain
Take responsibility for your actions
What makes a bad colleague?
Not getting your hands dirty
Offending others unnecessarily
Being passive aggressive
Not being straight/honest/clear
Being unable to get what you want
They’re probably just general life skills for anyone, but they seem to me to make the difference between the successful production team and the unsuccessful.
After all the BBC’s efforts , the On Air Talent still sometimes fails to understand that all broadcasters have to comply with Editorial Standards. The bridge from creative to offensive can be quite small, because sticking to the rules is what creative people don’t do. That’s why they have layers of staff – editors, producers, series producers and executive producers – to make sure their creativity doesn’t get the broadcaster slapped by the regulator. And in the last few years, the requirement to fill in in an online compliance form as dictated by Ofcom. So there wasn’t much excuse for this. Except that clearly someone, somewhere in that chain, didn’t realise they were there not just to foster creativity, but also to keep the talent out of trouble.
After Queengate, new EdPol training was forced on all BBC staff and all independent production companies working for the BBC.
Almost all production staff go into the job to be creative. A few of them don’t quite see the importance of EdPol. It’s not what you go into the business to do. But as this week’s row and sad result shows, it’s vital to regard it as a key part of your role if you have any editorial function at all.
So 2,000 hardy and experienced fell runners toook part in the OMM. The weather was so bad it was feared that many of them were stranded overnight on the hill. For the national news reporters the most fearful thing about the whole event was that none of the runners had a mobile phone to call for help. Every participant survived overnight, despite having no mobile phone, because they were very well prepared for the task they had embarked upon.
The next day, 6 participants were winched off by the MR teams and all the rest got down under their own steam. So far we have no evidence that they couldn’t have got off under their own steam. No participant interviewed has said it was badly organised. But already the news bulletins are proclaiming there are many question marks over whether it will happen again.
Is it possible the journalists have over-reacted, being unused to people who enjoy challenge and are grown up enough to decide on risk for themselves?
I’m making video to be used in classrooms, specifically for the whiteboard. Whiteboards aren’t the same as TV or computer screens. This has good and bad implications for making video clips. The worst factor is how drab a lot of video looks in a lot of classroom situations. This useful technology can be less than compelling in the wrong lighting conditions. What looks marvellous illuminated on a desktop in optimum lighting conditions can be washed out, indistinct or muddy on the big screen, particularly compared to the sharpness and clarity of a flash animation. Over the coming months we will try to solve this problem in shooting new videos for whiteboards.
Shooting factors include lighting, film effects, choice of locations, sound, and recording format. We aged old crone movie makers love our arty film lighting but that won’t wash on whiteboards. The director, design team and camera crews will be considering how we can avoid this pitfall, improve the picture quality and avoid any white- or black-outs of the type that can apear in typically artistic scenes. We’ll also see what benefits shooting on HD will bring.
Classroom factors are outside our control. They include use of projectors, classroom blinds and other ambient light controls, speaker quality and seating arrangements for viewing. We have to assume the video will be seen under the worst classroom conditions.
This is an old problem also. In the past it was poor quality TVs with tinny speakers, 30 kids clustered round a wheel-in telly. No curtains in the classrooom. But in some ways. we’re still there with badly lit and set up whiteboards.
At today’s Showcomotion I had the good fortune to attend a session with Frank Boyd and Marc Goodchild. ‘Crossover Kids’ introduced me to their method for sparking off multi-platform developments amongst a random group of interactive and TV producers. Having brainstormed lists of platforms and genres we were randomly allocated two platforms and a genre and sent away to come up with something that worked for kids. I particularly enjoyed Frank’s excellent road map for creativity and ideas generation which led from ‘an opportunity’, via a widening miasma of ‘seeking perspective’ then down into a narrowing funnel of ‘editing’, to ‘a thingy’. It was reassuringly low-tech and resulted in free and easy brainstorming.